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Posts Tagged ‘Donna Tartt’

Art and Literature Are Teeming with Monsters, and Other News

January 3, 2014 | by

Bosch Hell

Art credit Hieronymus Bosch.

 

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Authors in Uniform, and Other News

October 25, 2013 | by

donna-tarttlarge

  • From Twain to Wolfe to Tartt: authors in uniform.
  • Fittingly enough, fisticuffs at the Norman Mailer: A Double Life party.
  • The Asterix reboot, set in ancient Scotland, is being hailed by (a few, possibly as few as none) Scottish nationalists as an endorsement in the referendum debates.
  • The Iranian culture minister promises a relaxation of book censorship under the new regime.
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    Notes from a Bookshop: Late Summer, or Summer Is a Kind of Island

    August 28, 2013 | by

    DeLillo

    3. Arcana

    Of one order are the mysteries of light
    and of another are those of fantasy
    Rider Tarot Deck instructions

    —Brenda Shaughnessy, Our Andromeda

    A good friend came to visit this spring, and a few times during her stay, she pulled a book off the shelves, either from Moody Road Studios or at my home, shuffled the pages under her thumb, and stuck a finger on a line like an arrow hitting a bull’s-eye. Then she’d read the single line aloud, a kind of party trick.

    This would typically happen when we’d be in the middle of a conversation, talking about some big questions that we were swirling at the time, the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I, will-this-work-or-not, should-I-take-this-chance kind of conversations that tend to occur after some Southern Comfort on a patio. She used whatever book was in her hand as a literary tarot, and believed the line would tell us all we needed to know. Usually, bizarrely, it worked.

    I tried this on my own, but it fell flat. After the house was asleep, I would pose a question in my head and stalk a book, pull it from the stack before it could resist, flip open its pages and point hungrily at it, waiting for its answer. Each time, the result was tinny, hard-pressed, wanting. It reminded me of late nights with my Ouija board as a kid, waiting desperately for something to speak to me when I was really just waiting for my own voice.

    People ask a lot of their books. They want them to be amazing, they want them to be cheap, they want them the moment they walk through my door. I often feel like a kind of carnival showman, flashing bright colors in front of the customer, hoping something catches their eye. People’s personal restrictions always amaze me. “I don’t read books with dogs in them.” “I don’t like to have to think too hard.” “I can’t buy books with white covers.” Really? Read More »

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    Notes from a Bookshop: March, or Waiting for Redbird

    March 15, 2013 | by

    Picture 16

    “The sky was darker than the water
    it was the color of mutton-fat jade.”
    —Elizabeth Bishop, “The End of March”

    On more Saturday afternoons than not this month, I’ve watched swirls of snow blow past the blue door of our bookshop. The parking lots in town have small mountains of mud-encrusted snow piled in their corners, monuments to the length of this winter. At home, the firewood is running low, our freezer is nearly empty of the lamb we split with our neighbors back in the fall, and the local farmer’s market offerings have dwindled down to the last rutabagas from the root cellars. This has been a long winter, and everyone who comes into the bookshop looks a bit tired, drawn, impatient for spring and the promises that come with it.

    My favorite customer came in three weeks ago with his pregnant wife, her hair and eyes glowing, everything about her bursting with her own impending spring. Her husband is my favorite customer because he is my good luck charm—on the bookshop’s first Saturday he walked in and poked around until he found our poetry section. He gaped, not believing our little cache of modern poets. He revealed he was also a poet, had written his graduate thesis on Franz Wright. He’d grown up in town and I thought the presence of a local poet on one of our first days open was an auspicious sign. Read More »

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    Is Nothing Sacred? The Brontë Chapel Is Sacked

    October 25, 2012 | by

  • The Brontë Bell Chapel, the seventeenth-century West Yorkshire church in which the literary sisters were baptized, has been looted by stone thieves. The crooks took the stones from the tops of graves, as well as from the walls of the building.
  • Scholars at Oxford University may be on the brink of cracking the world’s oldest undeciphered writing system, a series of Bronze Age texts (in the original sense of the word).
  • “I think it’s time for us to advocate for poetry!” Matthew Dickman’s call to arms.
  • Here is a storyboard for The Secret History.
  • Oh, and while we’re at it, here is a Hobbit-themed menu, coming to Denny’s November 6. “Start off your First Breakfast—or Second Breakfast—with six bite-size round red velvet Pancake Puppies made with white chocolate chips and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Served with a side of cream cheese icing for dipping.”
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    How Do I Break My Trash Addiction?

    June 29, 2012 | by

    Dear Paris Review,

    For the last few months I have been rotting my brain with nothing but trash. (I am ashamed to admit how trashy, but let’s just say a certain mommy-porn trilogy may have been involved.) And the worst part is, now I find myself unable to read anything good. How do I transition back to respectable books? Sincerely, Trashy

    Dear T.,

    I think this has happened to a lot of us, in one form or another. I’ve also had a variation on this experience with movies: the Ozus and Bergmans in my Netflix queue mock me as I sheepishly skip over them, yet again, in favor of season 2 of The Borgias or some competitive-cooking show that forces people to re-create a taste memory using one hand, a Bunsen burner, and a palm frond. Sometimes we need transitional fare, the literary equivalent of a basically formulaic romantic comedy with a low budget and indie pretensions, if you will.

    The good news is, there is no shortage of reads that are every bit as fun as what you term trash, but won’t leave you feeling like you just wasted six hours of your life. Lorin gave a good rundown not long ago. To his list I’d add classics like The Secret History, Case Histories, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Bonjour Tristesse, and newer titles Skippy Dies, The Chaperone, and Ghost Lights. If you like thrillers, there’s no shortage. I enjoy Tana French, although she’s not everyone’s idea of a beach read. If you’re really having a tough time weaning yourself, maybe try a different genre entirely: humorous essays always go down easy, and, along the same lines, short-story collections provide a gradual transition. Personally, I’m a sucker for a juicy biography: The Sisters, American Gothic, and Savage Beauty all got me through periods of intellectual exhaustion. Good luck, and I look forward to more suggestions from our readers!

     

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